I don’t run red lights. I’ve never shoplifted. And, to push this, I actually returned when the cashier gave me too much change.
Truth? Not self-exclaiming. Simply “the way it is,” the very way it is.
From the get-go my parents taught me to “consider the situation” not the Bible. Well, not in those words. I was Bible-respecting, law-abiding. I went to confirmation and was duly confirmed. And, yes, not by the first-to-teach-me-pastor. He was arrested for his pedophilia. I was never in his clutches or intrusions. My father and I even took him fishing.
So what? Well, I consider it a VERY SO WHAT.
For sure I don’t know the Bible as well as I perhaps should. Emphasis upon the “perhaps.” I do know the basics and try to, fanciful language, incarnate them in my life…more so…in my living.
What’s basic, though, and where this is going, is triggered by a short yet pithy and very deep paragraph this morning from Tom Ehrich…goes like this:
“Jesus’ behavior was this kind of radical. He saw persons — a woman unjustly accused, a man struggling to forgive, a crowd famished, a man burdened by wealth — and, without regard to religious niceties, he stepped in. In his small venue, he made things better, not more pious.”
The ethicist Joseph Fletcher saw it this way: When you act, the prompter Should be, HOW IS LOVE SERVED IN THIS SITUATION? The title to same is “Situation Ethics.” I believe that is the mantra of Jesus and the will of God.
I work on that. Always asking…and honestly do my best to conceal my deeper intent upon the, what I call “surface social”—the “how are you?” satisfies that—ask the question: WHAT DOES THIS PERSON NEED?
Most of the time? Nothing.
And yet, sometimes I hit bulls-eye. Just recently, and I won’t share her name, one of my Randall’s buddies looked “down and grim.” She walked up to me and looked down and looked up with teary eyes.
I listened. As well as I could. And reflected when she asked, “What should I do?”
I didn’t and rarely ever give a “should.” Don’t like that word. I simply listened and told her that “I am with you. I’m with you.”
No, not self-virtue. Simply knowing in my heart what is needed. And what the other’s situation requires.
Sometimes? Nothing. Sometimes, more often than not, “fine thanks” is the apt response and depth.
But, when the need is there…IT IS THE NEED that should govern who we are and what we do.
Yes, red lights are important. But. Most important is for us to relate to one another based upon the situation…not judgment upon whether or not we like someone…or as is happening today with such frequency and brutality…if someone likes us.
Live in love…and do what you and I can…to recognize and reduce human need.